On Saturday, March 5, APU's West Campus filled with excitement as the 20th annual Night of Champions brought an evening food, music, and games to local youth. Sponsored by APU in collaboration with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the event culminated in personal testimonies from two Olympic medalists.
In 1986, the first Night of Champions included an informal barbecue where APU athletes shared personal testimonies with 50 kids. This year, more than 2,800 junior high and high school students attended the event. Night of Champions is designed to expose these youth to God's life-saving message through celebrity athletes, entertainers, and musicians who have a public relationship with Jesus Christ.
Fun abounded early in the evening as teens wandered through a Classic Car Show featuring 25 classic cars and 25 motorcycles from Peacemaker Harley Davidson Ministry. Inflatable games and slides and an outdoor hip-hop concert energized youth prior to the night's main event.
The best part for Chelsea, 9th grade, and Tabitha, 8th grade, from Highland Avenue Community Church was still "the speakers." "Every year they have someone different with a different story," said Chelsea. Fourth and second-time attendees of the event, they also admitted that the In-N-Out dinner was "a definite plus."
After the food and fun on the lawn, teens queued up in front of the Richard and Vivian Felix Event Center for a seat to hear Olympic medalists and committed Christians Bryan Clay '03 and Leah O'Brien-Amico. Clay, 2004 silver medal Olympian in the decathlon, and O' Brien-Amico, three-time gold medalist for the U.S. Olympic Softball Team, shared about being in pursuit of God and having God as the purpose behind running the race.
At the end of the night, each student received a Bible and a chance to commit or rededicate their life to the Lord. According to Vanessa Wilhelm, assistant director of Night of Champions , many students indicated a new or renewed commitment on their response cards. "Even if one person accepted Christ, the night would be worth it," said Wilhelm.